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County ranks high with its residents

Dakota County residents continue to like living here and rate the quality of life very good.

That is the indication from the 2016 Multi-County Residential Opinion Survey conducted earlier this year. The survey was done in collaboration with Olmsted, Scott, St. Louis and Washington counties. The survey was sent to 3,500 randomly-selected residential addresses in February and March.

According to the survey, Dakota County residents rate their quality of life very highly. The average rating was 79 on a 100-point scale, which is between “good” and “excellent.” Additionally, the quality of life rating was higher compared to other counties in the nation and similar to the ratings given in the last survey, which was taken in 2013.

When asked what they like most about living in Dakota County, the most common responses were location, general quality of life and parks and lakes.

Residents were given a list of 11 general characteristics of the county and asked to rate the quality of each. Most characteristics received favorable ratings from residents.

Residents were asked how safe they felt from different kinds of crimes, as well as perceived safety in different county locations. Almost all of the items received an average rating that was equal to “somewhat” safe or better.

Housing is a concern to residents, according to the survey. When asked to write in comments related to the most serious issue facing the county, 11 percent said they were concerned about affordable housing, making it the second most commonly cited concern. The most commonly cited concerns were related to crime and safety, named by 11 percent.

Residents were also asked if they believed their household would be better off financially, worse off, or the same a year from now. A quarter of the residents said they believed they would be better off, while a majority – 55 percent – thought it would be the same. About 20 percent said they believed they would be worse off in a year.

Residents speak highly of Dakota County services. The overall quality of services provided by the county was evaluated positively with an average rating of 66 on a 100-point scale. The rating was higher than given in 2013.

The services receiving the highest ratings were county parks and recreation, libraries and trail and bikeway systems. The assessment/property tax system received the lowest ratings.

Residents also think highly of county employees and give high ratings to various aspects of county government performance.

The 34 percent of the residents who reported having contacted a county government office in the last 12 months were asked to give their impression of the employee. The average rating was from 73 to 76.

Residents had strong opinions about county fiscal management and planning. When asked to rate the importance of the county investing in open spaces, residents gave an average rating of 80 – between “very important” and “essential” – to using the investment to protect lakes, streams and wetlands from pollution. A similar rating was given to protecting and managing high-quality natural areas.